Professor Mina Hoorfar - Credit: Contributed

A more efficient way for clean water

Kelowna - A 3D printed model allows UBCO researchers to test water quality

Researchers at UBC’s Okanagan have designed a tiny device —built using a 3D printer—that can monitor drinking water quality and help protect against waterborne illness.

Director of the School of Engineering Mina Hoorfar said new research proves miniaturized water quality sensors are cheap to make, can operate continuously and can be deployed anywhere in the water distribution system.

“Current water safety practice involves only periodic hand testing, which limits sampling frequency and leads to a higher probably of disease outbreak,” she said. “Traditional water quality sensors have been too expensive and unreliable to use across an entire water system.”

Tiny devices created in her Advanced Thermo-Fluidic lab at UBC’s Okanagan are proving reliable and sturdy enough to provide accurate readings regardless of water pressure or temperature, according to a UBCO release.

The sensors are wireless, reporting back to the testing stations, and work independently—meaning that if one stops working, it does not bring down the whole system. And since they’re made using 3D printers, they are fast, inexpensive and easy to produce, said the release.

While many urban purification plants have real-time monitoring sensors, they are upstream of the distribution system. Often, Hoorfar said, the pressure at which water is supplied to the customer is much higher than what most sensors can tolerate.

But her new sensors can be placed right at or within a customer’s home, providing a direct and precise layer of protection against unsafe water.

More than 17 years ago, four people died and hundreds became ill after drinking E.coli-affected water in Walkerton, Ontario.

“Although the majority of water-related diseases occur in lower- or middle-income countries, water quality events in Walkerton, for example, raise serious questions about consistent water safety in even developed countries like Canada,” said Hoorfar. “Many of these tragedies could be prevented with frequent monitoring and early detection of pathogens causing the outbreak.”

The research was recently published in Sensors.

Just Posted

Blasting set to start in West Kelowna’s Tallus Ridge neighbourhood

Blasting being done to prepare for 10th and 11th phases of development

Mill Creek is open once again

The Kelowna park has been closed due to flooding in 2017

911 jams causes panic among residents

RDOS chair received several calls and texts from panicked residents unable to get through to 911

Missing West Kelowna Man’s body found

The 52-year old was found near Shannon Lake

Outdoor irrigation banned in Falcon Ridge east of Kelowna

Central Okanagan Regional District says two reservoirs need to be refilled

Neighbours jump into action after grass fire ignites 10 feet from Kelowna home

Multiple fire halls responded to a grass fire on the 800 block of Mount Royal Drive.

Cougar shot by police in Nanaimo

Shooting occurred in water at Nanaimo Yacht Club at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday

Vernon guard joins Heat for 2018-19 season

Two-time Vernon Panthers MVP Leon Schenker is among UBCO basketball’s new recruits

Summerland wildfire grows to 50 hectares

More than 40 firefighters are on scene of the wildfire near Mount Conkle, just outside of Summerland.

14-year-old pilot attempts to break Guinness World Record at B.C. airport

Mohd Shaikhsorab wants to become youngest pilot with fewest hours logged to fly solo

Non-wildfire related calls line plague dispatchers, block line

The logjam of callers Tuesday night resulted in long wait times for people legitimately calling about new fire activity.

Price no guarantee for safety with horse riding helmets: new report

A Swedish insurance report reveals that many brands of equestrian helmets do not protect riders as well as they could.

South Okanagan firefighters save veteran’s house

33 members, with the help of B.C. Wildfire, protect Second World War veterans home from fire

One year later: Still no suspects in killing of 13-year-old B.C. girl

Marrisa Shen was killed in Burnaby’s Central Park on July 18, 2017

Most Read